An Ode to Dave Chappelle

In one bit on Dave’s Chappelle’s groundbreaking For What It’s Worth comedy special, he reminds us, right before he breaks into his famous Ja Rule bit, that we should stop worshipping celebrities.

If I had the chance to go back in time and catch Dave writing that bit, I would’ve said, “Hol’ up. I’mma let you finish…”

You see, I’ve been worshipping Dave since his Comedy Central show for being hilarious, of course, he’s one of the best to ever do it, but also for always keeping it real when it comes to politics, society, race, and class. He somehow intertwines both like perfectly braided Manila rope, and each time he does it, I come out laughing my ass off while coming out smarter and more aware in the process.

“That is a very subtle psychological nuance of oppression to have a dictator on your money. Our money look like baseball cards with slave owners on them.”

— Dave Chappelle, For What It’s Worth

So when Dave Chappelle received The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which is currently available on Netflix, I was reminded of a break-up with a girlfriend.

It was a lonely and dark night in December of 2005 when I had broken up with my girlfriend, or rather she had broken up with me, an 8-year relationship done just like that — dead.

We had lived together for nearly as long and she kicked me out, gave me like a month to get out of the apartment, and the only thing I could find in that short amount of time was an apartment that was right across the street from ours her’s.

That’s right, I fucking decided to live right across the street from my ex, like a mad man, and for the first few weeks of my living alone, I was not only depressed, but I was also broke as fuck. I couldn’t afford shit, much less cable TV, much less the fucking internet — all I had was electricity, a TV, a DVD player, and one DVD — For What It’s Worth.

“It’s either you fuck monkeys or you fuck people. There’s no in between.”

— Dave Chappelle, For What It’s Worth

Until I had enough money to afford cable, I had Dave’s stand-up set from San Francisco to keep me entertained night after night. That was like a two-week-long binge of the same jokes, the same laughs, and the same Dave every night until pay day.

All the while, after each viewing, I grew less and less lonely, slowly forgetting about the woman across the street, and I began to appreciate myself again, I began to have hope again.

For two weeks, I had a friend in Dave, and so today, after realizing that my favorite comedian is getting recognized for an award named after one of my all-time favorite writers, I just wanted to tip my hat to him and thank him for being who he is, for sharing his thoughts, for sharing his life, shamelessly, without fear, and he definitely doesn’t know it, but he helped a lonely man out when he was drowning deep in the throes of the deepest of oceans.

One love, and thank you.